Women’s recovery center opening

Published 3:43 pm Thursday, May 20, 2021

A new, improved type of women’s substance abuse recovery center will soon be coming to Middlesboro/Bell County. The program will serve around 112 individuals and offer a range of services in a secure, safe, and sober setting that will take women from “crisis to career,” representing the first full continuum of services in Kentucky and setting a model for the Appalachian Region.

The program is based on the highly successful Recovery Kentucky model, which has 18 programs across the commonwealth, but also builds core life skills, helping with the agonies of withdrawal from opioids, enhancing education, and creating employment pathways for the residents. Goals of the program include education, employment, community integration, family reunification, and self-sufficiency.

The RHOAR initiative – “Recovery, Hope, Opportunity, and Resiliency” was funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to assist the hardest-hit coal economies of Eastern Kentucky. ARC is an economic development partnership agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across Appalachia.

ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth.

Fletcher Group, a non-profit established by former Governor Ernie Fletcher, is dedicated to restoring lives and helping communities recover from the opioid epidemic. With RHOAR, Fletcher Group was tasked with developing new long-term recovery centers in the severe coal-distressed areas of Kentucky. The Group took the lead in identifying Middlesboro/Bell County as a target area of need and opportunity and brought together the partnership that resulted in the RHOAR project. Fletcher Group’s vision is to create a highly effective and resilient model that will positively impact Middlesboro and the region for many years while rebuilding the local economy and making it more resilient.

RHOAR creates a massive community impact without raising local taxes or relying on local funds to support its construction and operations. Capital funding is made possible by Kentucky Housing Corporation’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program combined with a grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati. The project will result in over $10 million in new construction while adding 26 full-time jobs to the local payroll. The general contractor has agreed to bid out materials and will try to use local businesses as much as possible for materials. Furthermore, bid documents will be made available for all local subcontractors in the area, giving them the opportunity to bid and opening the chance for more local impact.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, the estimated construction and startup impacts of a LIHTC development of this size include over $3 million in local income, more than $300,000 in taxes and other revenue for local governments, and around 50 construction jobs. Further, the additional, annual recurring impact includes an estimated $1.2 million in local incomes and $220,000 in taxes and other revenue for local governments.

RHOAR will be developed and operated by Cumberland River Behavioral Health, Inc., (CRBH) a nonprofit community mental health center whose mission is to ensure all members of the community have an opportunity to achieve their highest potential for satisfying, productive, and valued lives.

Since 1966, CRBH serves an eight-county region in southeast Kentucky and encourages individuals to be active participants, along with family and other interested supporters, in the development of their recovery goals based on the individual needs of each person. Services are confidential and payment is based on ability to pay. RHOAR will continue and build upon this excellent legacy and experience.

According to Tim Cesario, Director of Recovery Services at CRBH, “this program gives women the opportunity to develop many areas of their lives beyond addiction. We believe it will have a positive impact on the citizens of Bell County.”

Later phases of RHOAR will resemble a scholar house-type program for women in recovery, representing the first of such type of program with a Kentucky Community College. Women graduating from the intensive phases will have the option to attend Southeast Community and Technical College, located nearby, to attend classes and further stabilize their lives.

As Southeast President Vic Adams notes “we are proud to be a part of this innovative and much-needed program. It will give our community’s most vulnerable members hope and the tools to create better lives for themselves and their families.” In addition, the program will partner with Southeast Kentucky Rehabilitation Industries (SEKRI) to create meaningful employment for women who want to directly enter the workforce.

In sum, by prioritizing Bell County residents and infusing federal grant dollars into the community, RHOAR will have a massive community impact, change lives, and promote economic revitalization in Middlesboro. This safe, clean environment will promote recovery and be a haven and atmosphere for recovery and life.